For years I had this repeating dream. I would be driving on a two lane country road with red dirt gulley on each side and pines all around and I would head around this corner, and as soon as I went around it I knew I would see my grandma’s house back in South Carolina. But sometimes in the dream I would tell myself I was just dreaming and sometimes I would just wake up because there was no way to actually see grandma’s house in a dream. It was a painful, frustrating, and somehow heartbreaking dream.
About forty years later, I went back to South Carolina, reconnected with my relatives and saw the remains of my grandmother’s house. I have not had that dream since.
As usual, when we moved from South Carolina to California, my parents didn’t bother to explain anything to us kids, like where we were moving, or why we were moving, or that we shouldn’t be upset about moving. Given my mother’s pathological inability to see her children as separate people maybe she figured we had picked up all the answers to our questions by telepathy.
Looking back I can see that dream as a scar or as a scab covering a sore—something that really didn’t have to be but was nonetheless.
I was sitting on the front porch of a bed and breakfast in Madison, Georgia with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, smelling the honey suckle, watching the sun sink behind the trees, feeling the soft breeze and I was filled with peaceful sense of being Home.
Little kids absorb their environment; it goes directly into them. They don’t have the psychological padding of “reason” yet, that gives me all sorts of stupid answers to why this or that is happening. We moved to a place that was mountainous, where the air was always dry, where the sky was a pale blue, where there was no honey suckle, where the heat and humidly didn’t turn you into a limp rag, where storms did not come up out of nowhere, drop their fury of rain and then leave, where there were no blackberry patches, and no woods.
My parents just picked us up and ripped that place right out of us. It took me forty years to understand that the message of my painful dream was: you can’t see your grandmother’s house in a dream. You have to go there.